Format and Suggestions for Class Reports               


Synthesize current knowledge in a subject and  provide your own perspective. A mere review 
is insufficient, you must guide the reader towards  the more important ideas/data and away from the 
less important. 



It is difficult to compose an outline for all varieties of reports so you may need to adapt this outline to your specific project. 

The length of the report is variable and it is hard to say what length is expected because it depends on the quantity and quality of material. Shortening the report where important information is left out is not good. Adding verbiage, fluff, and lots of figures to lengthen the report is not good and is transparent. (we've all tried it) A rough guide would be 10 pages not including references. Remember content is important and the grade will be largely based on content. 

The reports are to be neat, typed in 12 point font, numbered pages and stapled. Unstapled reports will not be accepted. Inbed the figures and tables in the body of the report in locations just after where they are cited in the text. The style of the report, including references, will follow one of the main scientific journals you use. 

For a ready guide, take a scientific journal article.  Note how that paper is structured, sections headings, and how the content flows.   Note the format of the figures, captions, and references.  Pattern your paper after this paper.  Hopefully you won't pick a bad paper as a guide.  If you have any questions regarding the format or the quality of the paper you are using as a guide, ask me. Include a copy of a few pages of a paper, including a page of references, that you patterned your report. I hate to have to include this, but include page numbers! 

Known problems: The most common problem with poor reports is the citations. Often a report will cite a few books (secondary source) and maybe a journal article or two (primary source) and it becomes very clear that the report is based on very little material. You must think of your report as something you would submit to a journal for publication. Please observe how scientific journal articles cite many previous works. It demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of the topic and the fact that the important other previous works have considered in the preparation of the article. Without sufficient citations, the journal article (and your paper) is considered not well-researched and poorly founded on past advances and therefore its contribution to new knowledge is suspect. 

The report can not rely on secondary sources, it must refer to primary sources. Primary sources delve into greater detail and are typically more current. Secondary sources are a summary of the subject from the author's perspective, you must synthesize the material your self from the primary sources. 

Be forewarned, obtaining articles from interlibrary loan can be slow, so start early. 

Occasionally, a paper will be submitted that is just poorly written. Please have someone else, particularly someone in class, read your manuscript over prior to submission. They should catch the major flaws. It can only help your grade.